What is the Difference between the CAT and GMAT Syllabus?

CAT and GMAT exams are entrance examinations for admission into management programmes. The purpose of both exams is very similar.

CAT provides admission into courses offered by 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and 100+ colleges in India. GMAT is a globally standardised test for admission into business schools’ graduate and postgraduate courses.

The CAT exam is conducted by an IIM, whereas the GMAT is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Indian colleges such as XLRI Jamshedpur, MDI Gurgaon, and Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and Indian School of Business, Mohali accept GMAT scores.

What is the difference between CAT and GMAT exams?

If students want to pursue management courses in India, CAT is their best option. It is a computer-based test held once a year and has a score validity of a year. Its application fee is less than GMAT, but students can attempt the exam only once a year. All the candidates are allocated a single date for the exam, and the conducting body provides exam centres. CAT is more suitable for Indian students who have scored 50% and above in their graduation, are in their final year or have graduated. The exam is two hours long, and the scores are reported in percentile. 

GMAT provides a global opportunity for aspirants, but is very competitive. It is a computer-based examination held multiple times a year. Its scores are valid for five years, allowing students to gain work experience. The examination fee is higher, but candidates can choose their own exam centre and venue. They can attempt the exam up to five times a year. GMAT has a prescribed syllabus, but the exam is computer-adaptive, which means that the question’s difficulty level depends on the previous attempt. For example, if a candidate selects a wrong answer, the upcoming question will be easier. However, if they attempt it correctly, the upcoming exam will be more challenging. The exam lasts for three hours and seven minutes. The scores are absolute, on a scale of 800. Candidates can also get percentile scores.

Students must attempt all the questions in a GMAT exam, but can skip some in a CAT exam. If they miss a question or answer incorrectly in the GMAT exam, they can’t go back and correct it or see the future questions because the test is adaptive.  

CAT and GMAT subjects

The CAT exam has questions on:

  • Quantitative Aptitude that focuses on mathematical skills and calculations.
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning for mental ability and logical thinking.
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension to check language fluency.

The GMAT exam has questions on: 

  • Verbal Reasoning for language.
  • Quantitative reasoning to check mathematical skills.
  • Integrated Reasoning to check reasoning ability.
  • Analytical Writing Assessment that focuses on analytical thinking and descriptive writing.

A closer analysis of these subjects will help understand that the Analytical Writing Assessment is an important section differentiating the two examinations. Even though there are quantitative questions for both tests, the questions in the CAT syllabus are of a higher level, especially Data Interpretation. However, for Indian students, Verbal Ability and Reasoning is the most challenging part of the GMAT syllabus.

Difference between the CAT and GMAT syllabus

GMATVerbalSentence structureGrammarParts of speechPhrases, clauses, idiomsStrengthen or weaken argumentsAssumptions, inference, comparisons and evaluationModifiers, parallelismDirect and indirect speechActive and passive voice
QuantNumber systemGeometry Mensuration Arithmetic Algebra Word problemsStatistics including descriptive, inferential etc. 
ReasoningAnalysis of tableTwo-part statementGraphics Multi-source reasoning 
AnalyticalAn argument essayAn issue essay
CAT VerbalVocabularyGrammarPara jumblesError spotting and correctionIdiomsSyllogs & analogsSynonyms and antonymsCompleting blanks and paragraphsReading comprehension
QuantArithmeticNumber systemWord problemsMensuration GeometryProbability Permutation and combinationInequalities 
ReasoningData Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: seating arrangements in linear and circularPuzzlesVenn diagramRoutes and networkingBlood relationsCoding and decodingDirectionsAlphanumerics etc. 

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